§ Nice Art: Gerhard, the mononymous artist who is best known for creating the intricate backgrounds in the psycho masterpiece Cerebus, is now doing prints of this and that. And that includes a new Harry Potter print which is to die for. I know we were just talking about the crack down on unlicensed prints, but this is totally transformative! He’d better make six more.
§ With Rebirth barreling down upon us, retailer/pundit Mike Sterling remembers the dawn of The New 52, and that experience is going to be hard to duplicate:
The thing about the New 52’s month-long onslaught of new first issues is that it felt like a Big Event, nearly unprecedented in the comics industry. DC didn’t even restart everything after Crisis on Infinite Earths, when it would have been totally justified. The excitement over this weeks-long parade of #1s just kind of fueled itself, and I think I remember mentioning at the time that, when we opened the doors each Wednesday for new comics day, people literally rushed to the funnybook wall to get their hands on the latest DC debuts. People I’d never seen before, people who told me “I heard about all these new first issues on the news and wanted to see what was goin’ on” – the immediacy of all these new comics appearing on the stands more or less at the same time got people in the doors.
Of course, keeping them coming back was the real trick, which, um, didn’t work out so well, as New 52 sales eventually dwindled down to pretty much where things were before. And then Marvel attempted their own rollout of new #1 relaunches, but spreading them out over several months, with some titles ending in the midst of others starting and not having a clearly specified line of “everything before this point is old, everything after this point is new” like DC did with the new Justice League #1…well, that didn’t quite build the same kind of buzz.
I think TheNew 52 buzz spoiled people who think it can be duplicated; it can’t. But something else can happen that’s totally new. But it will take vision to intuit what that is.
§ Former Beat contributor Bob Calhoun, author of Shattered Conventions, a look at the whole “con phenomena”, is now writing a column about going to cons for Meetings Today. . In the first one he goes to a furry con and get right into it, it being a fursuit.
Being at the Furry con all seems so normal when you just put on the fur suit.
The furries start to fill the massive ballroom at the San Jose Convention Center. There are wolves, foxes, birds of prey, tigers and adorable kittens. Some have chosen furs of greys and browns—the colors of their inspirations in the wild. Others come in dayglow blue and neon green.
This is the staging room for the Fursuit Parade at Further Confusion, one of the largest furry conventions in the country. Furries—some of them wear animal suits and others are just really into them—have been gathering here since 1999. The convention attracted a then record-breaking 3,560 attendees in 2014.
§ On a similar note, here’s the latest story about someone going to a con for the first time and finding out…these people are kind of cool.
But what became readily apparent was that these people—whether they were costumed or not—were doing this for a sincere love of their respective cultural phenomenon. And that’s an admirable thing. How can you reduce someone’s passion down to just a bare stereotype? It’s easy, granted, but completely misses the point of comic conventions. From the time I got there, I was bombarded by people dressed as Deadpool, Boba Fett, Batman and dozens of other characters. There was even a group of people dressed like the original characters from “G.I. Joe.” There was also a large percentage of younger children there, posing with these characters and generally looking on in awe of their surroundings. I can’t say that I blame them.
§ With all the comics-based TV shows coming on, we sometimes forget that there is going to be a Wynonna Earp tv show based on the Beau Smith creation. Repeat: Wynonna Earp is coming to your cable box. It stars Melanie Scrofano and comes out in April on SyFy, but in the meantime there’s a COMIC, previewed in the link. Smith returns to his creation while Lora Innes provides art.
§ Do you remember Sequential Tart? Founded in 1998, this was probably the first place on the internet that offered a voice for female comics fans and readers. (PS: I know you are going to say that the place was really ComicScans, or a usenet group. Please argue for your nominee in the comments.) ST was totally groundbreaking, and provided a platform for several people who would go on to greater things, including Gail Simone, and should have a page reserved in the big book of comics history that someone will write some day.
Also do you remember Jennifer Contino? My erstwhile buddyback partner back in the Beat/Pulse early days has been missing from comics for a while BUT SHE’S BACK at Sequential Tart with a interview with Jimmy Palmiotti, who never went away and has interesting thigns to say as usual:
Sequential Tart: I always like talking to you, Jimmy, because you are one of the straight shooters in comics. You don’t really try to sugar coat anything and tell it like it is, even if that isn’t always the most popular way to be. Why is it so important for you to be direct and honest, not just in the work you are producing, but in your personal and professional relationships?
Jimmy Palmiotti: I was taught that your word was everything and to treat people like you how to be treated. My parents taught me to respect others, not to judge what I don’t understand, and to have empathy for people going through hard times. My dad and mom were wonderful people — the kind that were loving and caring and always did the right thing. They set an example and a very high standard for me to live by. My father told me if you never lie you have nothing to fear coming back to you. Be good to all people and be fair. These all seem obvious as I write this, but it’s not as common as one thinks. My dad had a business where he dealt with people daily, and he taught me by example how to treat people, and how to be a good businessman. It’s probably why, when I deal with people that are full of shit, I have no patience for them and call them out if I have to. I just don’t believe in wasting anyone’s time. I will spend the rest of my life trying my best to make my parents proud, wherever in the universe they might be, since they both died a while back.
Eventually I realized DC was also canceling some of its current series, so the overall number of monthly issues wouldn’t be quite as massive as I was fearing. But I was shaken and made to see the bigger picture: There are too many goddamn comics to read these days. Not to get all Andy Rooney about the funny-book industry, but it’s absolutely overwhelming how much one has to consume in order to stay on top of the various comics narratives in the marketplace.
True dat, Abe! That’s why I read standalone narratives from small presses!
They’re also helping out those comic stores lucky enough to have a customer base that is persuadable, quality-conscious and diverse. Everything Stephenson suggests in his address would improve the outlook for those stores tremendously in addition to making the industry as a whole more sustainable.
But until that is most stores, the direct market is still going to have the same old problem from the 1990s, despite the dramatic change in the stature of comics culture over the past 20 years. Without an unprecedented shift in consumer behavior that transforms the American comic-buying public into something more closely resembling France or Belgium – where all comic readers routinely buy their quality graphic literature from local, independently-owned shops and old-style collector-fans don’t drive retailer strategy – the hope that publishers, distributors and retailers will call a halt to the cycle of self-destruction remains just so much Image-ination.
§ I don’t often agree with conservative commentator Jonah Goldberg, but his recent thoughts on The Walking Deadmake a lot of sense.
The gang from The Walking Dead has decided to make a stand in Alexandria. Good for them.
Now, can they please follow some rudimentary rules of siege fortification? For instance, they need to clear the tree line back another 200 yards. More important?
Moats. Lots of moats. We know that zombies have a very hard time climbing out of ditches. And while it is possible that they could fill up to the point where the walking dead could walk over the trapped dead, it’s very, very, unlikely that this could happen by surprise. In other words a series of moats and ditches surrounding all of the Alexandria planned community (not the city) would make another massive horde-attack almost entirely impossible. Moreover, human attacks would be hindered as well. Earth moving equipment has to be pretty easy to find.
It is true, every time I watch TWD I find myself thinking “Do they know how to dig a well?” I know that the show is heading where the comic is, to a more stable “Earth Abides” type situation, but considering that Coral is now a youth when he started out as a child, a few years have passed and you can’t eat canned food that long. All human enclaves would need to produce their own food by now. And yes, moats are not a bad idea. Anyway, I know, that’s season 10.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.